Friday, April 29, 2011

A Royal Delicacy

Any and everything left in this world that is formal, regal, opulent whilst being traditional seems to be headed out these days, being replaced with informality, commonality, bad manners, jeans and sneakers.  While modern ways and current societal norms have many benefits and luxuries that never existed in previous history that we all (myself included) enjoy today - I, for one, appreciate Royal Weddings and all the tradition, luxury, and sense of true monarchical formality that comes with it all.   In a world of faux, a Royal Wedding is one of the last real ceremonies of tradition that continues to be carried out.  

There is something about a Royal Wedding (not just British, but all monarchies) that symbolizes and anchors onto the history of the human race that I value.  I appreciate it when men stand up at a dinner table when a Lady excuses herself to go to the bathroom.  Door opening, men's formal wear, polite language -- it's all headed out nowadays.  Yes, I do appreciate the benefits of modern ways and society such as equal rights, open-mindedness, and such -- but at the same time, some of the more valuable and elegant ways of tradition are withering away and being forgotten, and a Royal ceremony brings to life some of these dismissed treasures of the past.  If anything, I can really appreciate the history behind it all, not just the demonstration.

While there have been numerous Royal unions that have failed, and people love to cite failed marriages in their tirades against a "fake" Royal Wedding, keep in mind that failure is a quite regular occurrence in many - even most - weddings in general.  Many, many weddings fail.  Are all marriages fake? I think most of the time, people go into marriages with good intentions and often times some wishful thinking, but it's not my belief that the Royals are putting on a charade, and I admittedly enjoy relishing in this marvelous celebration that occurs about once every thirty years.  It's a pleasant break in our everyday ways and happenings, and it is a peak into a time when things were a little more purposeful, a bit more formal, and a bit more romantic as well.  A time that my generation has not been fortunate enough to experience, sadly.  In a way, for me, the Royal Wedding is a symbol of our attempted grasp on the continuing tradition of marriage, which many people seem to have lost faith in. 

Obviously, it's a complete girly girl's fantasy party to the fullest, something I admit to becoming excited about.  I've been speaking in a British accent all morning and I chose to wear my white lace top and all my fanciest jewelry to work today in celebration.  In a world of disposable everything, it's nice to see a grandiose tradition being carried out exactly the way it has been for centuries.

Lastly, I'd like to mention how Kate Middleton's dress is simply exquisite, and a wonderful example of a grandiose fashionable display while also being sophisticated, feminine, delicate and a tasteful selection for the modern woman.  A refreshing change from Princess Diana's extravagant (and that's an understatement) gown in 1981.  Additionally, I just *love* the way her veil (created by the Royal School of Needlework) was beaded at the edges which gave it some weight that caused it to hang magnificently over and across her face.  Just beautiful, A+ from me.

Don't be afraid to relish in this ceremony.


 Chivalry isn't dead, yet.

 Kate's after-wedding Alexander McQueen gown

Simply Stunning

Kate Middlelton in Alexander McQueen, compared to Grace Kelly's gown in 1956.  Both exquisite




Friday, April 22, 2011

Forgotten Treasures

Most of the fine jewelry I own has been given to me.  I have a few prized pieces gifted to me by my grandmother, I have a variety of semiprecious jewelry pieces given to me by my sister from her aunt's jewelry company, Denise James, in addition to numerous pieces given to me over the years for my birthday, graduation, ect by my mom...including the pearls I'm wearing right this very minute.  I love every single piece given to me by these three wonderful family members.

However, other than that - I haven't really taken it upon myself to go out and buy nice jewelry on my own.  It's expensive.  And that cute silk blouse at Nordstrom is only $65 on sale!  Do I really need another blouse that's going to last for 5-10 years, tops?  I have a myriad of costume jewelry and $2 earrings from Forever 21, but other than what's been gifted, nothing else of any real value....until recently.

I think a lot of girls/women these days (myself included) don't really purchase as much fine jewelry as our mothers and grandmothers used to.  There's nothing like fine jewels - they posses a value and aura that is incomparable to anything else.  There is something about the stay power and "realness" of jewelry that you don't come across very often these days...everything nowadays is designed to break down two years after you buy it so you just buy more more more, and throw away more more more!  It's a shame - because fine jewels are the type of pieces that become family heirlooms and retain their value for centuries, not months.  Walking into Tiffany the other day to purchase a birthday gift for my mother inspired me to appreciate jewelry more than I have in the past. All the Bebe earrings and Forever 21 statement necklaces I've purchased are going to be tarnished, recycled and forgotten after a few months, while the pieces gifted to me by my family, and the jewels of real value that I might purchase in the future will go to my son or daughter, to be kept within my future family.  There's something about that which gives me a warm fuzzy feeling like a brand new foxfur coat collar.  ;-) 

Some tips to buying and maintaining valuable jewelry:

Consider Going Vintage

Vintage jewelry is different than "used".  Used is for Goodwill.  Vintage is a whole other, more romantic ballgame.  I find there is more appeal in vintage jewelry sometimes than their is in a lot of the new and modern pieces!  If you buy from a trusted source (like Lang Jewelers in San Francisco), you can feel pretty safe knowing that if there is ever a problem with the piece (like a stone falling out) you can bring it back to them and they will find a way to make it right.  Additionally, vintage jewels have a look to them that you just don't find anymore in modern pieces - a look that I happen to love.  And lastly, one of the biggest bonuses to buying vintage is that you will be saving money by doing so, and avoiding the inflated price of a brand-new piece.

Consider Appraising and Insuring Your Pieces

You never know what might happen - you could damage a piece on your own, take it to a jeweler that may clean it improperly - and you want to be ready for anything that might happen.  I've heard a lot of people say that any fine jewelry you have should be kept in a safe deposit box down at the bank.  While they do have a point, I tend to lean more towards the school of thought that: what is the fun in that?  Jewelry is meant to be worn an appreciated.  I'd never want to store my jewelry out of sight in a black hole downtown and never wear it - if anything, keep it locked in a bolted-down fireproof safe inside your house.  If someone breaks in, they won't be able to steal it and this way, you can actually enjoy the pieces.

Do Your Research

Know and be familiar with the structure and durability of your fine metals and jewels.  Some stones are more durable than others, and you should know how to treat your pieces with care.  NEVER clean your jewelry or have it cleaned without looking into the proper procedure first - you will do irreparable damage.  I remember a few years back I read that Jessica Simpson uses Windex to clean her diamonds.  While this is reported to be safe, I still wouldn't risk damaging the stone or the precious metal anchoring it.  Stones that are typically more fragile include: amethyst, opal, pearl and emerald.  Gold is especially soft and malleable as well.

Care for Your Pieces Properly!

Even diamonds can be vulnerable to damage if not taken care of properly, or if impacted at just the right angle.  To help avoid this, properly caring for your pieces will reduce the risk of something tragic like this happening. Store your pieces in individual boxes. Many people actually wrap the pieces of jewelry in silk or velvet before storing them in their individual boxes. Fragile stones must not be allowed to knock against other stones or pieces of jewelry, and with earrings, keep each earring separate from the other to ensure that they don't bang against each other - I have chipped a stone by not doing this.  Always apply your makeup, perfume and hairspray before putting on jewelry. If you put on your jewelry before applying your makeup, you will dramatically increase the amount of grime that will eat away at your stones.  When taking a piece in for repair, shop around for the place that you trust the most, that isn't going to rip you off, and that will give you a warranty for the work that they do. 

Keep Your Pieces Within Your Family

It's my personal opinion that one should really only gift fine jewelry to blood family members, or your absolute closest friend that is very dear to your heart.  If you don't have family, I'm sure you have made your own family, and these close individuals are the ones who should receive your pieces when you pass.  If you don't have a daughter, you might want to tell your son to limit giving away your pieces to his wife (sounds harsh, I know), instead keeping them for your granddaughter or grandson.  It's my opinion that heirlooms should be kept within blood related family members, with the exception of an engagement ring piece. 


Diamonds aren't something I know much about, so unfortunately I can't really shed too much light on that subject...but here is my brief two cents on the topic.  There's definitely a LOT of information on diamonds out there and I know quite a few diamond enthusiasts, so the information is easily available and one should make sure to do research before investing in any diamond.  The markup on diamonds is often extremely exaggerated, and there's a great deal of debate over why diamonds are even valuable.  Diamonds are actually not uncommon stones at all - the market is arguably completely monopolized and controlled by De Beers and a few of the other large corporations that have historically used their dominant positions to manipulate the international diamond market.  This is more reason to go vintage in my opinion, and this way you can avoid the possibility o
f buying a conflict diamond.  Any diamond (even those labeled non-conflict) you buy that is originated in Africa is putting you at risk of buying a conflict diamond.  To be safe, I'd avoid buying an African diamond altogether, or consider going for a different type of stone which is both a nice variation from the traditional diamond engagement ring and less expensive as well.

Men's Jewelry

Other than pieces that have a function, such as: cuff-links, a watch, tie clip, money clip, wedding ring or pocket's my personal opinion that men shouldn't really wear jewelry.  Necklaces, bracelets, earrings, non-wedding rings....for men it's a no-go in my opinion.  Sorry, but I feel it's tacky and pseudo-feminine.  However, there are some absolutely classic and great functional men's jewelry pieces out there, and I am all for men wearing these.  I love seeing a great pair of cuff-links or tuxedo shirt buttons on a man.  A friend of mine just bought a set of lapis and gold cuff-links and shirt buttons:

More men don't invest in this type of old-school jewelry any more, but the ones that do are usually of a dapper quality.  Love that about them.

Here's to finding your next statement fine jewelry piece.  Have fun!


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's the Little Things

Hello to all of my lovely people that I have been neglecting...I am so so sorry!  Life has been busy packed lately, but it's looking like this week will be comfortably slow for me and I have all kinds of ideas in mind for new and thought-provoking posts.

Random tidbit I'd like to share with all my readers:

I've never been able to spend more than $8 on drugstore face wash.  It's one of those products that I don't seen any reason to splurge in - it sits on your skin for 30 seconds and then down the drain.  I am not spending $45 on some Shiseido fancy soap that's going to work about the same as my go to drugstore product.  You have to know when to splurge and when to realize you're being ripped off...the old splurge vs. save dilemma. It's not like facewash is leaching expensive professional haircolor like a cheap shampoo will, and as long as I'm using  something basic that I won't break out from and something that'll remove my makeup, I'm happy.  I've been using Johnson & Johnson "Purpose" face wash for years now and I love it.

It's the most gentle on the market and it's pretty inexpensive as well, however the other day I was randomly in the baby aisle and I noticed this product:

Low and behold, the ingredients are near-identical to that of my cherished Purpose wash, it smells and feels the same on my skin, and it's half the price for over twice the amount.  Score!!!!  I recommend this for anyone looking for a basic face wash that effectively removes makeup and does not cause breakouts or irritation.  Clean skin is imperative for healthy skin, and don't ever go to bed without washing your face first - this is one of the most undeniably important steps to glowing skin.  

It's the little things, guys.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

My Own Ridiculist

I used to have respect for Anderson Cooper, regarding him as an ambitious and up-and-coming journalist.  This has changed since he debuted his "Ridiculist".  Cooper's Ridiculist is basically a segment on his show where he criticizes and sheds light on various people and issues, but often the focus is on people in the media themselves.  And while most of the time the people he is focusing on are people that tend to annoy me as well, or people that I also find to be ridiculous, there is just something about the idea behind and delivery of this segment that rubs me the wrong way.  The way in which he goes about his criticism is more along the lines of Perez Hilton or the National Enquirer, and is becoming further and further distanced from respectable journalism.  It's unnecessary cattiness.  I doubt Anderson Cooper would say these things directly to their faces - it's all for the ratings.  He should be on his own Ridiculist.

And then I realized that this is something I have some personal experience with.  Our mothers always told us growing up, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."  Let's be honest- this piece of advice is just not realistic.  We ALL have our opinions, and they're not always nice.  Myself included.  I think a more grown-up and realistic version of this bit of wisdom is:

"If you wouldn't say something about someone directly to their face, don't say it at all." 

That's my personal philosophy.

As I was pondering my dislike for Cooper's "Ridiculist" this evening during my shower, my train of thought led me to start considering "haters" (I dislike even using that word) in general, and how people so often bash other people because they disagree with or do not understand the way they are choosing to behave, appear, speak, write, ect.  I began thinking about how people gossip, how in general (in my experience) people seem to be more naturally inclined to judge or dislike another person without reason than the opposite - having a curious and open mind towards the other less-understood person in a positive way.  Why is this so?  Why are we so quick to hate towards other people instead of embracing new people and everything that comes with them?  Instead of being open, very often people administer scowls, sharp words and cold shoulders their way.  Hate is very often nurtured by a lack of understanding for something or someone, and it is also often confused with jealousy.  I believe we'd all be richer in every aspect of our lives if we were more open minded.  In fact - I believe that those who are genuinely open minded about new ideas, people or experiences have a significant advantage over those who don't in every way, and those who don't take up the majority of the population, in my experience.  We should all be consistently reminding ourselves to be less closed minded in life.  You will get ahead by living parallel to this idea.  This is one of my go-to personal rules for myself - something that I am constantly working towards achieving.  I wrote a post a while back about "grey areas" in life - and I think that train of thought is woven into this one as well.  

The part that I take issue with the most is how sometimes people tend to silently judge others, and then act or speak on it in a surreptitious way.  I know I am outspoken, and I know I can be harsh.  But, I'm real.  And I do take pride in that.  I know I make some people cringe.  I know my willingness to expose myself is part of the reason why people are drawn to me. With me, what you see is what you get.  And that's something I think we could all take pride in.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Texting Lifestyle

I'm a texting machine.  All day long, typing away on my Iphone.  It pisses my mother off, my friends, of course it can get me into trouble at work - yet somehow I put up with all the consequences and continue to uphold my texting lifestyle.  Text messaging used to be easier when I had a Blackberry Bold which had a full physical keyboard, and after switching to the Iphone (a gadget I find to be more superior and advanced, by the way) I had to adjust a bit, but after some practice I'm back to my 75 WPM average typing away, texting all my friends furiously, all day long.

I've slowly started to realize that texting has replaced talking on the phone in my world, and talking on the phone has replaced real-life interaction.  What is happening!  This is a trend I've got to put a stop to!  So often I send a text rather than picking up the phone and calling someone.  Talking on the phone more often than not is awkward, obnoxious and too invasive.  Do you agree?  Have I/we become so detached from real, human to human interaction that now even talking through a machine to another person has become just too much?  Most of the time when my phone rings, and I see the name or number pop up on my iPhone (with the exception of very few people), my stomach drops a little bit and I go through the oh so common debate in my head, "Should I answer?  Uggh..." - and this is for people that I like and get along with!  Yet, I'm tempted to send a text right after they call saying "What's up?".  It's sounding pretty pathetic to me as I type this out.  I would rather type on a keyboard to get my message out than using my voice.  Sad?  Or efficient?  A little bit of both, I think.  This is part of the reason I assigned myself one of my new year's resolutions which is to speak to and interact with my friends more, either in person or over the phone, rather than email or text message.  Oh yea....that was a resolution...better get on that!

Well on that note, I wanted to share this article about cell phone radiation and the potential harm it's causing you.  More reason to text in my book!  (Haha - just kidding.  I realize my texting has gotten out of control.)

And, here is another interesting article about the ever so present growing opposition to speaking on the phone that Americans have acquired in recent times.  While this article seems to be putting a positive spin and even commends the fact that nobody wants to talk on the phone anymore, I am leaning more towards the notion that instead of further isolating ourselves and embracing the dislike for telephone conversations, we should all try to be a little bit more social, and call each other more often.  It can become a slippery slope.  Do you agree?


Can't seem to put the thing down
[Cache dress, vintage Chanel Earrings, BCBG two-way sequin clutch]